Race to Cuba: Into the Trades

Lesson #1 nears Cuba hoping for a wind shift and a long awaited spinnaker set.

"Frankenmain"Troy Gilbert

Becalmed for a bit overnight, Tuesday's sailing has been slow at around 3 knots - no one is enjoying limping along under the frankenmain, but this has allowed some time to learn how to adjust its shape primarily using the "shoestring batten tweaker" and then quickly sending someone up the mast to tighten the turnbuckle on a 4-inch sagging D2 shroud. Sailing this afternoon has improved with Lesson #1 averaging around 6.2 knots in 8-11 knots of breeze and we are now trimming to course - Havana. We have now officially entered the Florida Straits and at 3:30pm, our finish is 120 miles away.

Talk onboard is already of shipping a delivery main to Key West for pick-up early next week and of having our failed, brand spanking new alternator worked on in the Marina Hemingway - if they can keep that fleet of 50's era Fords, Chevys and Pontiacs running, surely there is a wizard down there to assist.

On Friday November 6th, the entire fleet sailing from Pensacola will participate in the "actual" amateur sporting event which is a race along Havana's Melacon to the historic Morro Castle that has guarded the entrance to Havana Bay for over four centuries. Each boat in the fleet will take on Cuban dignitaries and school children and race for line honors again - Lesson plans to fly the frankenmain proudly.

As the sun gets ready to set in the Straits, the crew is settling down into the evening ritual even though a bit distracted. In the slow winds earlier in the day, our female crewmember did a bit of laundry off the stern and now there are dainties peppered here and there tied to the stern and drying in the sun.

Our navigator has now estimated an arrival of noon tomorrow, but the winds are building and the boat is starting to heel, so much that we are now de-powering the frankenmain because we haven't learned to trust it as of yet. Who knows what the winds will do when the sun goes down... maybe a shift to let us finally raise a spinnaker?

Follow along with the crew of Lesson #1 on the race tracker or our blog page for updates on the race to Cuba.